CRUSADERS 50 v SUNWOLVES 3 – AMI STADIUM, CHRISTCHURCH
The holiday weekend started with the Sunwolves travelling to New Zealand for the first time with a visit to AMI Stadium and the in-form Crusaders. It went about how it was expected with the Crusaders having 6 different try scorers including Manasa Mataele hat trick to dominate the Japanese team 50-3. The win moved the Crusaders to the top of the overall table while the Sunwolves will be wondering how to improve with this being only their first of 4 games on the road.
BLUES 24 v HURRICANES 28 – EDEN PARK, AUCKLAND
Beauden Barrett ended up being the difference at Eden Park as the Hurricanes stole a late win against the Blues. The Hurricanes took a 21-14 lead into the break, but a try and a penalty goal had the Blues in front before Barrett manufactured a try with a chip and chase and a cross field kick, which resulted in Mark Abbott charging over to give the Wellington based side the points. The Blues will look to regroup during the bye while the Hurricanes travel back to the capital to take on the Brumbies on Friday night.
CHEETAHS 27 v CHIEFS 41 – FREE STATE STADIUM, BLOEMFONTEIN
It was the Cheetahs who raced out to an early 24-0 lead, on the back of tries to Rhule, Van Jaarsveld and Venter before the Chiefs showed up, with Toni Pulu crossing twice before the break to bring it back to 24-14. From then on it was all the Chiefs, scoring 6 consectutive tries on the way to a brutal 41-27 win. The Cheetahs were outscored 41-3 in the final 55 minutes and will be needing to bounce back against the Bulls next week if they want any chance of catching the Stormers in the Africa 1 group. The Chiefs however travel to Perth after a successful South Africa tour to take on the Force at NIB Stadium.
STORMERS 16 v LIONS 29 – DHL NEWLANDS, CAPE TOWN (MATCH OF THE ROUND)
It was a battle between the 2 top teams from the African conference at Newlands. After a ferocious start to the match, it was the Lions who broke the line first, taking advantage of a tip tackle to maul over the first try. The scores were level on 10 minutes after a moment of brilliance from Dillyn Leyds, who made a break down the left, chipped the Lions fullback before regathering and finding the try line. Their lead was short-lived however as Harold Vorster split the Stormers defence to stroll over and return the Lions to the front.
A back and forth game evolved, with the Stormers hitting the front off the boot of Robert Du Preez, while Jaco Kriel received a 10-minute break from Jaco Peyper after making contact with the head of Du Preez while trying to charge down a kick. The Stormers failed to take advantage, with poor handling and bad decisions stifling their attack, although defensively they were very good, causing turnovers and pressuring the Lions playmakers. A Lions penalty goal off the boot of Elton Jantjies returned them to the lead, from which they were never caught.
Jaco Kriel returned to the field and the Lions took full advantage just before half time, and it was the Lions 6 who found the try line after 6 phases, carrying 3 defenders over with the TMO spotting the ball touching the turf and giving the Lions the 5 points and a 9-point lead going into the break.
HALF TIME: Stormers 13-22 Lions.
The 2nd half started off with a hilarious mistake, with the Lions scrumhalf passing the ball to a Stormers substitute warming up behind the posts, handing them a 5m scrum. They were camped on the Lions line for the opening 8 minutes of the half, but brilliant Lions defence kept them at bay, eventually forcing a mistake, relieving the pressure. The Stormers continued to attack, but the Lions refused to yield.
The Stormers frustrations boiled over, with the Stormers captain Siya Kolisi taking offence to being held after a knock on causing a melee with the Lions responding by dominating the resulting scrum and forcing a penalty. What followed for much of the half was some great end to end rugby, the Stormers just unable to find a way back into the match, and only garnering another 3 points from a shot at goal.
Less than 2 minutes later, the Lions put the game to bed. The Lions getting an overlap down the left hand side with some quick passes and Sylvian Mahuza showing his pace to outpace the defence and score in the corner, Jantjies knocking the conversion over off the post to give them a bonus point and the bragging rights as the best team in the African Conference.
FULL TIME: Stormers 16-29 Lions
Lions - Tries: Malcolm Marx, Harold Vorster, Jaco Kriel and Sylvian Mahuza; Conversions: Elton Jantjies 3; Penalty: Elton Jantjies 3.
Stormers – Try: Dillyn Leyds; Conversion: Robert du Preez; Penalties: Robert du Preez 3.
BULLS 26 v JAGUARES 13 – LOFTUS VERSFELD, PRETORIA
The Bulls returned home to Loftus Versfeld on the back of their humiliating defeat in Tokyo to take on the other expansion team in the Argentinian based Jaguares. While the Buenos Aires side were dominant at home, it was their away form that was letting them down and this game was no exception, losing 26-13 on the back of 16 points from Handre Pollard, with the Bulls flyhalf kicking at 100% to snap the Bulls losing streak and putting them back on the chase of the dominant Stormers in the Africa 1 group. The Jaguares will need to work out how to win on the road, next travelling to Johannesburg to take on the group topping Lions.